Mark Hopkins was a self-taught musician and painter of extraordinary talent. Hopkins grew up in Newport News with his gifts in music and painting burgeoning virtually hand-in-hand. In his younger years, he had a quiet and contemplative aura that afforded him much time for careful observation of people and places with a penchant for collecting objects.

While his sonic inspiration was the Blues and his instrument the guitar, his approach to painting was heavily inspired by twentieth-century Modernism. He also loved the improvisation of Jazz greats like John Coltrane and Miles Davis and recognized the parallels between the juxtaposition of notes and their relationship to form and color on the canvas.